Our Gifts and My Shoes
by Mary Colussi, 8th Grader at the St. Ann School, Poet Laureate of the cOupE.
If you were to look inside my shoes during a performance, two things would happen, almost simultaneously: the play would stop, because you are trying to take my boots off without my permission, which is incredibly rude, and you would find some sort of trinket. It might be as simple as a piece of string, or as strangely beautiful as a glass heart. Or, more likely than not, it would be a tiny plastic pig.
I do not put things in my shoes for my enjoyment (rather, it is an uncomfortable situation to be in) nor do I do it for my protection (actors have all sorts of superstitions- we never hesitate to correct a person when they wish us good luck) The reason I stick things in my shoes is simple: I am a Chicken, and Dona is my director. Ever since I started acting with Dona, my fellow Chickens and I have received gifts. They aren’t wrapped up in pretty paper with a bow and a card. I’m not sure where Dona finds these things, or how she transports them, but that would ruin the magic, wouldn’t it? Because, despite my more pragmatic side’s protests, the gifts are magic.
Here’s why: before the audience walked in, the string connected us all. We called it “the string of the universe” and even though I lost mine ages ago, I still feel like I carry it. I had just gotten attached to my glass heart-they were handed to us with great ceremony, right before “Much Ado About Nothing”- when we were told we must exchange them with friends. We did so, and I left my heart at the Unitarian-Universalist Church by accident. Oh, well. My friendship with the person I exchanged hearts with grew a little bit anyway.
Then, there are the most revered of Chicken gifts. Perhaps appropriately and perhaps ironically, this gift represents another farmyard animal of Dona’s childhood: a pig. They are among the easier things to fit into my shoe, since the creatures are little more than pink scraps of plastic. Most people perch them in their ears, or nudged against their temples by their glasses. This is because, while we act, the pigs give us inspiration. At the beginning of practice, kids will stand up and tell us what their pigs are saying; they are used as a medium to say what some will not say, whether it be an interesting new idea or a slightly harsh criticism of a friend’s performance.
Everyone has gifts, and not all of them are put into boxes of bags. In Coupe, we discuss this a lot. Our parents give us the opportunity to fit into a niche of kids unlike any other; Dona gives us literal and metaphorical gifts every day. Then, there are the things we are born with, for some strange, awesome reason. I can make a soundtrack, she can sing, he can do an Australian accent. The older Chickens know each other’s abilities, but part of the fun of bringing new people is discovering what they can do and finding a way to make it work in Shakespeare and Sherwood. It is an adventure, and not always an easy one, but despite the difficulties, Coupe remains glorious in a way I find hard to put into words. But I’m going to try, because someone had to record all of this.